|Picture via Civil War Trust|
Although Milroy had originally intended to only launch one attack and then retreat, the two Ohio regiments had made more progress than he had expected. He decided to reinforce them with two more Ohio regiments and another from West Virginia. He sent them to try to hit the Confederate right flank. They marched along the turnpike to the North of Sitlington's Hill. The Ohio regiments found a ravine and climbed to the top of the hill. The Confederates were surprised to see the Federals coming up through the woods on the their flank, as they came forward with a sudden bayonet charge. The line was bent back, but then the Confederates counterattacked, and after heavy back and forth fighting the Unions were driven back. A Confederate captain later wrote this about the battle:
"The whole scene is yet vivid in my mind as I saw it. There was a kind of horrible grandeur about it all that allured and inspired some, and struck others with trepidation. ... Reinforcements are now entering on the Federal side with battle shouts and huzzahs, which are answered in grim defiance by the Confederates. ... On we go up the Ridge, take our position in line and open fire on the enemy. The battle now rages ten times fiercer than before, men fall on every side, some never to rise, while others are wounded and helped to the rear. The smoke of battle settles upon us so dense and dark that we cannot see happenings around us. Begrimed, drinking and tasting the smoke of battle seemed to increase courage and determination, and thus with defiant war cries the battle goes on for some hours. Nightfall came upon us, yet the battle still went on in unabated fury."By this time the sun was beginning to set, and the Confederate line on the top of the hill held firm, anchored by the 12th Georgia. One of the problems for the Confederates was their high position. It accentuated the propensity of new troops to shoot high, and so most of their shot went through the trees above the heads of the Federals, or hit them in the head. After the battle the Northerners remembered being covered with bark and branches falling from above cut by Southern bullets. At this time, Allegheny Johnson was wounded while commanding his troops. He was shot in the ankle around 8 pm and Taliaferro, Jackson's third brigade commander took over. The fighting continued until at 8:30. Then, the Federals fell back having used up all of the 60 founds of ammunition they had been issued, and not being able to be supplied as the wagons could not come up the hill. Milroy authorized a retreat, saying that the purpose for the attack had been fulfilled. He had been told by deserters that Jackson had 20 cannon and was expecting reinforcements. However, throughout the war many deserters exaggerated or bluntly lied. Sometime false deserters were sent, but many times although they were tired of fighting, they still wanted their country to win, so would give false information.
|Picture via Civil War Trust|
During the night, Milroy retreated, and the Confederates captured the supplies that they had left. Jackson a simple message to Richmond saying, "God blessed our arms with victory at McDowell yesterday." A few days later he issued this congratulatory order to his men: "Soldiers of the Army of the Valley and Northwest:
I congratulate you on your recent victory at McDowell. I request you to unite with me this morning in thanksgiving to Almighty God for thus having crowned your arms with success, and in praying that He will continue to lead you on from victory to victory, until our independence shall be established, and make us that people whose God is the Lord. The chaplains will hold divine service at ten o'clock A.M. this day in their respective regiments."